High praise for Serfontein

Jan Serfontein (Gallo Images)
Jan Serfontein (Gallo Images)

Mbombela - Everyone at the back played in the shadow of Willie le Roux at Kings Park last week, but the Springbok management already knew what the Cheetahs star could do, so perhaps the most pleasing performance was the sound showing turned in by inside centre Jan Serfontein.

The supersport.com website reports that in the build-up to the first test against Wales there was an acute focus on Serfontein following the controversial and mysterious withdrawal from the squad of Frans Steyn, who had initially been the man earmarked to wear the No 12 in the absence of the injured Cape pair of skipper Jean de Villiers and newcomer Damian de Allende.

Serfontein, a member of the winning Junior Springbok team in the IRB tournament in South Africa just two years ago, made a full fist of his first start for the Bok senior side.

Some strong carries combined with a couple of big tackles and sharp distribution work and decision making to represent a pleasing first full test match for the Bulls centre.

Backline coach Ricardo Loubscher admitted on Tuesday that Serfontein’s performance had erased some potential headaches and underlined the depth this country has at centre right now as he had ticked all the boxes.

"I was really pleased with Jan’s performance.

"There have been so many different centre combinations playing for us over the past year, but he came in and seemed to know exactly what to expect and he looked at home there," said Loubscher.

"He was playing against quality opponents (in the form of Lions midfield pairing Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies) so it was a good Test for him, and he came through it well. He ran hard lines and good angles.

"It was a really great performance."

Although chuffed with the way the backs made the most of the opportunities presented them by a strong forward platform, Loubscher said that the second half had been a concern and had ensured that there were problem areas to work on before Saturday's return match against the Welsh at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

"We weren’t happy with our second half.

"I think it was down to small detail that we got wrong.

"We need to rectify those mistakes and get the detail right.

"I wouldn’t say we are expecting a backlash from Wales this week, but we did lose a bit of shape in that second half.

"We need to look at our execution."

Having said that, Loubscher knows that you can’t quibble when you score five tries against Wales, and from scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, who he said made a big difference, through to man of the match Willie le Roux, the backline coach was pleased with what he saw overall.

"There was good variation at the back and I was also pleased with the way we handled ourselves on defence against a Welsh team that had some world class players at the back," he said.

"But while it was good to see us converting several opportunities in the first half, I must pay tribute to the forwards.

"They started for us by creating the right platform and giving us front foot momentum.

"Of course Willie le Roux is a special player, a really world class fullback, but we did it as a unit.

"Of course Fourie (du Preez) is world class too, and I don’t think I really need to talk about the value he brings to the team."

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